Instead, he pursued a back-of-the-length approach in his fifth over, with Warner slashing through backward of point for four and Labuschagne following up two balls later with a sweet pull shot which pierced two men in the deep.
Watching from the commentary box, Pakistan great Wasim Akram couldn’t believe what was unfolding, having praised Younis, his former new-ball partner, for heading to the boundary and giving Musa a few words of advice.
“They are very strong players of short-pitched bowling – they (Pakistan) are playing into their hands. He (Younis) told them to pitch it up and then he bowls a short one,” he said on SEN.
Musa then started to fall apart, over-stepping the popping crease on successive deliveries. He was removed from the attack wicketless and with 31 runs against his name. That he lacks the height to extract extra bounce was another reason Akram was baffled.
“He is not generating extra bounce because of his height … bowling around the wicket is too predictable,” he said.
The tourists have looked to the England blue-print to handle Warner, after veteran Stuart Broad tormented the former Australia vice-captain with his pace and shape from around the wicket.
“But that’s not too easy to do for a young fast bowler,” Akram said.
Test cricket can be brutal and this was a harsh beginning for a lad who hails from close to the Afghan border, moved to Islamabad with his family and made his name in the Pakistan Super League this year.
They are very strong players of short-pitched bowling – they (Pakistan) are playing into their hands.
The tourists had to make bowling changes to their attack after the disappointment of the Gabba.
This meant Mohammad Abbas, controversially overlooked, and Musa were drafted into the XI, with Imran Khan and Naseem Shah, 16, dropped. Shah was clearly not up to the rigours of Test cricket in Brisbane, prompting questions as to why he was picked at all.
Skipper Azhar Ali defended Shah’s selection but all his Gabba debut did was muddy the waters over just which players comprise Pakistan’s best attack.
“Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks haven’t been very easy for him. But we backed him because his skills you’ve seen,” Ali said. “His pace was up whenever he came in to bowl and his line and lengths were good and he troubled the batsmen. That’s why we were so confident.
“But we, obviously, have to see how much he’s been through. He’s just 16 and has a very young body and we have to look and be careful.”
Abbas, with his diligent line and length, should have been used at the Gabba but the tourists missed a trick. He and Afridi produced a controlled line before rain stopped play at tea but Musa’s struggles meant, as Mitchell Johnson pointed out, there had been a lack of “partnership” bowling required to build pressure.
There is no doubt Pakistan’s rebuilding fast-bowling cartel has tremendous potential, but that’s not enough to succeed on Australian decks. The decision by key quicks Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz to retire from Test cricket on the eve of this series has hurt.
It is experienced, crafty attacks that generally have had success in Australia – witness India last summer or South Africa earlier in the decade – and that’s why New Zealand are sweating on the fitness of injured spearhead Trent Boult, ahead of the series opener in Perth in less than a fortnight.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.